It is truly remarkable how much the essential same ingredients can continually play out different surprises on the palette. It is probably one of the things that is fascinating me so much about this beer portion of the blog.
Who is Joseph Bellarmin? Well, according to the words on the side of the bottle, he personifies the beer and because of his association with the liberation of Sainte-Pétronille, he’s also associated with the L’Île d’Orléans as well (laying in the St. Lawrence river, it’s a few kilometers from Quebec City) which is the home of the beer. (I’ll leave it for my readers with better French to perform the translation for us all).Une bière forte, comme l’était le capitaine Joseph Bellarmin qui, pour se libérer des remous de Sainte-Pétronille pria la Vierge des marins. Aidez-moi! Des taureaux aux cornes d’or apparurent et le tirèrent jusqu’à Saint-Jean. Santé capitaine.
All to say, Joseph was burly man who did good and by my read it of things his “golden horns” have a lot in common with the colour of this beer which too, at 8.5% is a burly beer that could liberate a small host. The other thing the hue evokes is the colour of the predominant flavour: that is apricot preserves. Yes, I know, strange but true. At first I thought peach but when the sweetness of the malts kicked in, it was an unmistakable sense-memory of homemade apricot preserves over vanilla ice cream.
As you can see from picture, this unfiltered beer pours with a good head that will disappear just as quick and leave minimal lacing. As such, the mouthfeel is not overly carbonated and what dominates is that creaminess of the “ice cream” – this is the diacetyls at play. Out of this jumps the apricot, then the sweetness in the mid-taste, and a very clean, very fresh bitter finish produced by the “cold hopped” fermentation method.
For a double (hopped) IPA, this beer doesn’t scream bitters, not at least while chilled. It is well balanced with the malts, though, if anything, the malts might actually sweeten the beer more than is easily palatable for more than a glass. However, a 500mL and 8.5%, this beer has “share me” written all over it. So don’t baulk at the $6 price tag because, really, there are two beers in this bottle, and you’ll get your hop on no problem.
Having said that, let the beer warm up to 8˚C and it is going to change – the apricot will fade to melon (honey dew and cantaloupe) and the bitters will heat up to a much more pronounced finish that makes this a well-suited bet for the hop-heads out there (like me). This is definitely a beer I’ll be coming back to, though I dare say with a bit of carefulness as well – drink it too fast and you’ll think you’ve hit La Fin du Monde.
Stats: Double (American) IPA. 8.5% ABV. L’Île d’Orléans, Quebec.
Colour: Golden amber – unfiltered.
Mouth Feel: Medium carbonation upfront, bigger bubbles that fade, creamy and very refreshing bitter finish.
Pairings: ‘White’ pizza with caramelized onions, provolone, olive oil, and pancetta.